1. Is your weight negatively impacting your life or relationships?
2. Do you ever binge in private or hide your eating from loved ones?
3. Does stress cause you to eat or binge?
4. Are you unable to control your eating habits?
5. Do you feel guilty after eating?
If you answered yes to most or all of these questions you are most likely a food addict or compulsive over-eater. Let me explain why.
Item #1 - Is your weight negatively impacting your life or relationships?
You are an intelligent person and you understand that you are not as healthy or fit as you would like to be. We are all guilty of that to some degree. Especially with the way skinny, borderline anorexic models and actresses are shoved down our throats through TV and other media. It becomes a problem when we begin to experience different levels of depression because we feel out of control and often inadequate. We avoid going to the beach or swimming pool. I've got a friend who's wife will not let him see her naked with the lights on. I know for a fact he would love to be intimate with her or at least feel natural around her but she is ashamed. It is unnatural and has caused a rift in the otherwise happy marriage.
Item #2. - Do you ever binge in private or hide your eating from loved ones?
When you go to the fridge to grab a snack do you look around to see if anybody is looking? Why? It's because on some level you feel guilty for doing it. You are doing something that you know is unhealthy and unnecessary. What we are really doing is getting a momentary sense of pleasure or satisfaction. The problem with this is that it is momentary and is gone as soon as you shut the refrigerator door.
Item #3. - Does stress cause you to eat or binge?
There is a moment when you are eating, right in the middle of chewing or just after you have swallowed that you feel good in control and perhaps at peace. We tend to seek that as food addicts. The problem with this, as I mentioned in Item #3 is that it is temporary. As soon as you shut the cupboard door you still have to deal with that stressful or emotional situation. Plus, now you've got the additional burden of knowing that you just ate 100-200 calories that you did not need. This only compounds the situation. You've made yourself a stress-guilt-stress sandwich.
Item #4. - Are you unable to control your eating habits?
Do you feel a need to eat everything on your plate although you were full 5 minutes ago? We share the same problem if you answer yes. Our eating has become a habit and we have stopped listening to our bodies. Why do we feel the need to eat everything on our plate? It has a lot to do with the way we were raised or an aversion to wasting food. Whatever the reason we often have trouble putting the food in a doggy-bag to go or Tupperware in the fridge for tomorrow. We know what we should do. The problem is we don't realize it until we are walking away from the table feeling overfull and guilty. You know you should have stopped 5 minutes ago but were not able to stop.
Item #5. - Do you feel guilty after eating?
You may have noticed that I have mentioned guilt in every one of the previous questions. Guilt is a huge part of this problem. We feel guilty because we know that we should eat better. We should eat less. We should eat more vegetables and less M&M's. However there is a primordial urge that blocks off all of those feelings and that knowledge while we are chewing on that Snickers bar. We are enjoying the sweet, crunchy smooth contrast of tastes and enjoying it. But then, as we are throwing away the wrapper it hits us. Guilt. We should eat better. We should eat less. We should eat more vegetables and less M&M's.
Conclusion: Because guilt is the main component in food addiction or compulsive overeating we must treat ourselves in a number of ways. A diet will be temporary. It almost always is. How many diets have you started and then stopped. A diet is temporary.
One of two things happen on a diet. One, we reach our target weight and then slowly slip back into our old habits. Then a while later we are getting in the shower and notice our spare tire is back. Or two, we slip a little on Thursday, and then again on Friday and by the following Monday we have completely abandoned our diet.
We have to change our lifestyle. We have to teach ourselves new habits. We have to learn how to deal more effectively with stress. We have to find exercise/activities that we enjoy. We can't exercise for exercise sake. It won't last. We have to change our lifestyle.